Football

Lionel Messi can inspire Barcelona, says Vilanova

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Vilanova's side trail 4-0 at the halfway stage of the semi-finals (©GettyImages)
Vilanova's side trail 4-0 at the halfway stage of the semi-finals (©GettyImages).

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova watched his side lose 4-0 at the Allianz Arena last Tuesday in the Champions League semi-finals, but he believes that a comeback is more than possible at the Camp Nou.

The return leg will decide whether Bayern Munich will go on and qualify for the Wembley final or not. Yet, for Vilanova, the fact that Bayern are strong favourites right now does not mean that the Catalans should give up.

Despite drawing 2-2 at the weekend against Athletic Bilbao, Barca are confident that they can overpower the Bavarians at least 4-0 in Spain.

“We believe we can fight back. It is our obligation and we are convinced [that retaliating is possible],” Vilanova told the press. “We know that it will be very difficult, but we are Barca and we can never give up on a tie, especially when we still have 90 minutes to play at home.”

Barcelona have been the source of suspense throughout the knockout phase of this Champions League campaign.

They impressively overturned a 2-0 away deficit against AC Milan by winning 4-0 at the Camp Nou in the Round of 16. Likewise, they narrowly survived against PSG, edging past their French challengers on away goals.

Noticeably though, in both stages of the competition, Lionel Messi’s input was essential.

After flopping at the San Siro against Milan, the Argentinian was back to his best in the second leg, scoring twice to sink the Italian titans.

Messi was, however, not on target in the decisive leg against PSG.

Nevertheless, his first-leg goal helped Barcelona stay on track, and his entry off the bench at the Camp Nou came as a morale booster for his team-mates on the pitch.

This time, Messi knows he needs to restore his image against Bayern Munich. His performance at the Allianz Arena was somehow weakened by a healing wound and, in the end, the 25-year-old’s appearance failed to have the predicted effect on the Bundesliga champions.

With a 4-0 loss on their hands, Barcelona are looking to use the powers of Messi to get back up and put an end to Bayern’s road in the Champions League final. Indeed, a mesmerising display from the four-time Ballon d’Or winner could be the ideal antidote to turn Barca’s wishes into reality.

“The more in form he is, the better our chances of getting to the final,” Vilanova added.

Although the manager accepted that it would be wrong to throw all the pressure on the world-class forward, he drew attention to Messi’s unique potential, adding: “A player as good as Messi, at this point in the competition, will have things to say in the match [against Bayern].”

 

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